Monday, October 16, 2006

The First Board Meeting Redux

Well, that was an experience.

In my last post, I talked about the run up to our first Board of Director's meeting. We had that meeting on Friday.

Sooo... Things I learned from my first board meeting as a first time CEO:

Tell your CMO not to try out his EVDO highspeed wireless card with Skype (for the first time) to call into the meeting.

Make sure you've checked every single one of your spreadsheets and that all the numbers match up perfectly, because your directors are going to find the ones that don't quite jive, guaranteed.

Make sure you have enough time. If you need 3 hours (not, say, 2) Schedule 3- not 2.

If the meeting time gets changed, make very sure all the directors know about it at least a week beforehand, even if you're not setting up the meeting personally. You should, personally, check to make sure everyone's on the same page on day and time. This seems obvious (and like a small thing). It's not.

Ride herd on the time spent on each agenda item. Directors will be happy to go deep and you're almost certain to run out of time before you run out of agenda items you wanted to go over

Make sure all your directors have all the same information in hand when or before you start the meeting, assuming somethings been added since the directors package went out. This is especially true if one or more of your directors is remote.

The more well processed and organized information you have for your directors to work from, the better your output from your directors will be. The opposite of this is also true.

Most of your directors are great at dealing with a lot of data (they do this a lot, they're masters at it really- almost certainly better than you). Don't water it down, don't make it as dense as plutonium; find your board of directors 'data happy place'.

You will get this wrong the first time.

Let them help you. If they want to directly engage in different aspects of your business, your first reaction might be to step back from it: Don't. You cannot buy the kind of help they can give you.

This last one (above) is really important: If you're a new first time CEO, you're used to running the show and doing it your way. And you're most likely used to making all the calls. If you've got a great set of directors, they can multiply your strengths and they can help you (quickly.. maybe a bit painfully.. but quickly) identify where you're weak and help you fill in the gaps.

Identify your directors personality types. You can do a short hand version on a sliding scale with pure metrics/numbers on one end and touchy/feely on the other end.

Director B Director A Director C
<-------|--------------|----------------------------|-------->
Metrics on X How ya feeling about X?

Each of your directors is likely to be able to operate at any point on the scale, but they're most comfortable in one area, most likely weighted toward one end or the other.

Plan your presentation of information (and the help/direction you're going to ask for) to cover the personality types of each of the directors.

Did I do all this? Nope. But I learned from the meeting that, to have a great board meeting, this is (some) of the stuff you should be thinking about and putting in place before the meeting.

How did it go? You'd have to ask my directors, but I'd rate it a C- C+. I clearly have a lot to learn. Luckily, I'm a pretty quick study. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but with this group, I'm absolutely certain that we're going to have a much, much more successful company with this board than we would have had without it.

2 comments:

Nicholas said...

experience can be painful to acquire sometimes.

kudos on your honesty and good luck with the next meeting!

alpha228 said...

Good luck Scott, Sounds like you are off to a good start....
Ed